Mayor Gutierrez’ Weekly Message
February 4, 2020
For the past week, March Air Reserve Base (MARB) has been caring for nearly 200 evacuees from Wuhan, China. They are American consulate employees and their families. They are under a mandatory two-week quarantine to make sure no one shows symptoms of the new coronavirus first detected in China. The virus is like a strong flu virus, with similar symptoms.
City and county officials – and even some members of Congress, it turns out – were taken by surprise just hours before the plane landed at MARB with the news that it was being rerouted here from Ontario International airport. The information was brief and the short notice left us little time to prepare residents with factual information about the passengers and the quarantine plans meant to protect our community and our nation from the spread of the virus.
As of Feb. 4, none of the evacuees at MARB has tested positive for the virus, and we wish them all the very best. We understand that these are patriotic Americans who had to be brought home. Our complaint was being informed by federal officials only at the last minute that MARB had even been considered as a quarantine location. Since then, I have expressed our strong displeasure with a variety of federal officials, including members of Congress, and have demanded better communication going forward. The City continues to strongly oppose any additional flights of evacuees to MARB and favors a more remote location with adequate funding and resources.
As your Mayor, I am proud of the way our City has quickly responded with support for Riverside County Public Health and Emergency Management, and our partners at MARB. And I deeply appreciate the many residents who have told me that although they wish federal officials had handled the situation better, they understand that as Americans we will always take care of our own.